Thursday night football. There’s a lot who aren’t keen, for genuine reasons, but I’m a fan of it. Lose and you can almost be over it by Saturday. Win and it’s smiles all weekend.
This week we’re up against our 2016 grand final Enemy again. The Round 2 matchup this year was a cracker and I’m hoping for another one tonight albeit with a different result! Losing to the Hawks was a stumbling block and our record coming off byes is not pretty reading. Tippett’s been dropped and Jack is back in, correct decisions in my book. But if we dip out tonight we kiss finals goodbye. It should be an intense game.
There’s feeling right from the start. Hanners is making his presence felt. He makes his true statement on the scoreboard some minutes later, slipping loose of his man to waltz one in. The Swans are not holding back, locking it in the forward half, blocking up the exits. Hayward has the ball deep in the pocket. It’s too tight an angle though. The Enemy surge forward winning a shot at goal off Mills’ spoiling attempt. It doesn’t have the journey. And we’re into a bit of back and forward, neither team able to find their way home. Sydney’s copped a drenching in the last few days and both teams are slipping over and fumbling the greasy ball.
Reid, in the middle of a 3 on 1 contest, marks. Shades of round two where he bagged six. Could it happen again? Perhaps not as he misses the lot. The world’s weirdest haircut in the form of Naismith cracks in and tensions flare. The crowd erupts as the umpire blocks what might have been a decent link up. A great drop punt from deep in the pocket puts The Enemy back in the game. We’re livid as Hewett takes a great grab, cops front on contact, and is not paid the mark. Lloyd concedes a behind and with a familiar groan-inducing moment his kick in sails over Reid’s head straight to The Enemy. Luck holds and they only hit the post. Down the other end Buddy intercepts a kick out down the centre and scores. A weird free kick goes to The Enemy, they haven’t had one for a while I guess. The remainder of the quarter is played mostly on our terms but as the players go at it after the siren I’m thinking we should be four goals up.
Buddy missing his set shot early in the second quarter makes me uneasy despite the fact he is getting his hands on the ball. Another fight breaks out in defense and The Enemy gets within three points. Our intensity rises, swarms of red and white jumpers around every contest. We’re targeting their half backs, especially Johannisen, and as a result they’re not able to run the ball out. Buddy gets his second, casually swerving the ball in. Reid with another strong mark but again only for a behind. The Enemy gain some territory but there’s no space. Down the other end Parker brings the ball to ground allowing Papley to slide through for six points. Buddy juggles the Sherrin just on the siren and sends it through. Reward for effort has been better but, even so, it’s only a four-goal lead.
Sam Reid, with his Mr Tickle like arms, takes a couple of ripper marks early in the third although only one goal. Down the other end The Enemy’s big forward has done nothing all game. The two Enemy supporters in front of me are unconvinced of his worth. As we discuss that a couple of easy goals go their way. The visions of leads slowly draining away return.
The Swans must have them too as the majority of the quarter it’s back on our terms. Reid stands up again. Kennedy with his ever-reliable set shot. Relentless pressure; where was this a few rounds ago? The Enemy get an easy one, chipping over the press catching Grundy too far in front of his man. The umpire keeps them in it with a 50-metre penalty. The two Enemy supporters take the jokes about free kicks in good humor. We go into the final quarter 29 points ahead.
It’s total domination in the last. The Enemy only manage to increase their score by three points and we get another twenty. Hanners goes off with bruised ribs but returns. Both he and Parker seem to have returned to form. Buddy has a go with a long bomb but is just offline.
The Enemy were spooked out of the game early on and never recovered.
Disappointingly there’s no kick to kick but thankfully there is a confidence boosting win to savour over the weekend. If we played that like all the time I’d vote to have all our games on a Thursday.
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